It was dark and Hin could see little. The air was clammy and warm. The humidity made her skin crawl in the wrong direction and she felt sick. The smell was like a breath from another's mouth. Not off-putting but definitely not without odor. Where was this? Her footing was uneven and she stumbled. She reached out and grabbed a rock. Wet rock. A stalagmite sharp like teeth. She felt beside the 'tooth' to make sure there were not more. Relieved she let out a large breath of air. Not quite a sigh.
"Come to me" She heard someone speak. Hin froze in terror.
"Tell them they must come here for me. The mouth of oblivion." The voice boomed. Hin felt it vibrate through her body, "They must bring her here to me."
Hin stayed silent.
"You stumbled here with your pathetic dreaming, so take my message to Jelen. He must give her up now. She is the price, the toll that must be paid," The voice boomed again.
"I can't" Hin reluctantly informed whatever lie ahead of her.
"You can. Just dream your way to them, stumble to them the same way you stumbled to me" The voice laughed harshly.
"Stumble," Hin said to herself, "I am so tired of stumbling and magic and dreams."
Hin turned around and tried to find an exit to wherever she was. The voice was chuckling at her. She became annoyed. She tripped and fell scraping her hands as she tried to catch herself and she sat up and blew on them to ease the pain. She realized she was no longer in the cave but on a rocky path. The sun was filtering in through dense leaves. Hin sighed and got up and walked the path toward what ever waited.
She heard voices ahead. There was a deer speaking with a sword. No that wasn't right. Hin blinked and the sword was still there. So was the deer with another sword beside it. Hin made a disgusted noise at the thought of strange dreams. They all turned toward her. She stepped backward and landed roughly on her back, quickly expelling all her breath. She closed her eyes. She lay there for a moment. Then slowly moved to get up. Now she was in a house of sorts. There was a table and someone sitting at it. They were writing and looking at pieces of something laying on the table in front of them.
The person looked up and it was Xander, "Mom?"
"Xan!" Hin exclaimed and rushed towards him. His image started to waiver like it was on the surface of a pool of water, "No!"
"How?" Xan asked her.
"Not important. I carry a message. Jelen must bring her to the Mouth of Oblivion, and that she is the Toll that must be paid." Hin said as things around her started to fade.
"Who? What?" Xan yelled and then he was gone.
Hin sat upright in the sheets she slept in on the floor. She was in the cabin and she quickly looked over to Faris in the bed. Beside her in his own sheets was the man who had helped them inside. She was breathless and felt tired but in a very physical way. The man stirred beside her and sat up.
"Bad dreams?" he asked.
"You could say that." Hin quipped.
She got up and walked to the door and went outside into the cool night air. She looked up and sighed. The night sky was beautiful, but the stars were all wrong. She could no longer see Orion. She always felt safe as long as he graced the sky. But instead, she saw two moons a bit smaller than the one of earth and a larger one rising. She squinted and looked closer at the larger moon. She thought she saw lights, and then they were gone. She laughed at herself and shook her head. Lights on the moon. The absurdity. The man came out and offered Hin a blanket to wrap around her. She smiled and took it, then went back to looking at the sky.
"I am so sorry," Hin said at last, "And I am so very grateful."
"I am sorry too." The man sighed.
"I promise, I will see to it he is remembered a hero," Hin said.
"Thank you, I appreciate that." The man said, "Still, I would rather have my boy back."
"I know," She half whispered.
Hin grew quiet again and just gazed randomly at all the stars. Then the thought of the light grabbed her again.
"I thought I saw light coming from that moon," Hin said pointing.
"We all imagine that at some point if we look hard enough," The man laughed.
"Do you know any constellations or stories of legends? I find myself craving stories from here." Hin said wistfully.
"I can tell you the stories I told my son when he was little." The man shrugged.
"I would like that very much," Hin said and smiled.
"You see that string of stars?" The man pointed up. Hin nodded, "well those are the stars of Bienduvine, The dragon lord who lost his life at the hands of the Necromancers, and being the first casualty and also the king of the dragons, the gods put him to rest in the sky so that we could be inspired by his bravery."
"Was he really the King?" Hin asked
"Well, that is how the story goes." The man shrugged.
"How did the necromancers start a whole war with the dragons?" Hin asked.
"It was long ago but they threatened to blight the land, and the only ones who could stem their corruption were the Dragons and Dragonborn." The man said.
"Could the fae?" Hin asked
The man laughed, "The fae. Ha, they don't exist."
"Yes, they do," Hin didn't like being laughed at. The man sobered at her angry tone.
"Well, I guess all those stories couldn't be made up." He said.
"Thank you," Hin bristled.
He shifted from one foot to the other uneasily in the silence.
"How bad were the necromancers?" Hin asked.
"I don't know, history is vague, but they killed and reanimated the dead and the land died under their feet." He shrugged.
"Is that history or stories?" Hin asked.
"It was a thousand years ago, what's the difference?" He turned to go back into the cabin and shut the door behind him.
Hin sighed and looked at the stars, then squinted at the large moon. Maybe she should have asked what the names of the moons were. If they had names. On earth she guessed since they had just the one, it didn't really need a name. She wrapped the blanket tighter around her and then wondered if she really did see her son in a dream. She looked down at her hands, her palms scraped raw.